William E. Lewis Jr & Associates opens new location in Davie


As a nationally recognized credit repair and identity theft expert, Bill Lewis is principal of William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates, a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
As a nationally recognized credit repair and identity theft expert, Bill Lewis is principal of William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates, a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

As a nationally recognized credit repair and identity theft expert, Bill Lewis of William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates – a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity – announces the opening of a new office in Davie, Florida.

Having outgrown their former location, William E. Lewis Jr & Associates recently moved to 6099 Stirling Road, Suite 210, Davie, FL 33314. 

Formerly with Credit Restoration Consultants, Bill Lewis has been widely sought by many in the restoration of their personal credit worthiness.  As such, a new credit repair component was formed.

In tough economic times, your good name and reputation are more important than ever. Creditors have tightened their guidelines effectively barring millions of Americans from obtaining credit.  Even those with excellent credit are experiencing reduced credit limits and closed equity lines. Mortgage lenders, auto finance companies, credit card issuers and banks have all raised the bar.

The terms credit repair, credit restoration or credit rehabilitation are somewhat synonymous. Those with bad credit histories cannot afford to ignore the potential benefits of credit repair. In today’s economy, a strong FICO score is more important than ever.

Approximately 78% of credit profiles in the United States contain some sort of error or omission materially affecting credit worthiness.  Absent self-help and the “do-it-yourself” approach, a consumer may hire a credit repair company in the restoration of their good name and reputation within the community.

Long gone are the days of obtaining credit, goods, benefits, services and/or employment with a 620 score. In most instances, a consumer will be denied if they maintain a credit score lower than 740. Even those with high credit scores have experienced closed credit card accounts and equity lines.  When an account has not been closed, credit limits have been reduced to the current balance due.

Borrowers with low credit scores can expect to be denied or to pay significantly higher interest rates than those with excellent credit.

Operating within William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates is a boutique credit service organization specializing in the restoration of consumer credit worthiness as well as identity theft. Assisting consumers in achieving a favorable financial credit profile is their first priority.

Everything they do at William E. Lewis Jr & Associates is legal utilizing laws enacted by Congress to dispute negative, erroneous, obsolete, and/or fraudulent information contained within your consumer credit profile.

Utilizing the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Fair Credit Billing Act, and the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, William E. Lewis Jr & Associates will assist consumers in the submission of disputes electronically, verbally and in writing to the Equifax, Experian and Trans Union consumer reporting agencies in addition to creditors, collection agencies, third-party record providers and state/federal/private regulatory authorities.

Unlike most credit repair clinics that submit the same written dispute letters monthly, William E. Lewis Jr & Associates has devised a credit restoration strategy utilizing the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Fair Credit Billing Act, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, in addition to laws applicable to a consumers state of residence. 

Keep in mind that anything William E. Lewis Jr & Associates can do – you can do yourself.  That means that you do not have to hire William E. Lewis Jr & Associates – or any other credit repair company – to review, investigate and/or dispute alleged discrepancies on your credit report.

Where William E. Lewis Jr & Associates may have an edge over the average consumer is that we possess the education, knowledge and a source proven method that consistently yields results.

William E. Lewis Jr & Associates has obtained thousands of deletions and updates for its clients and can help remove erroneous and/or inaccurate judgments, liens, bankruptcies, student loans, inquiries, derogatory accounts, personal identifiers, arrests, etc.  While the credit restoration process can take anywhere from 30 days to six months, most clients see dramatic results in 45-60 days.

Credit repair, credit restoration and/or credit rehabilitation is as legal as pleading “not guilty” in a court of law. With that said, one must understand that as a credit service organization William E. Lewis Jr & Associates is not a law firm and that none of their employees is an attorney licensed to practice law in the state of Florida.

As such, William E. Lewis Jr & Associates cannot provide legal advice nor represent any individual before any court or in any legal proceeding.  In the event that legal representation is required, William E. Lewis Jr & Associates may provide an appropriate attorney referral for consultation. 

Ordering Free Credit Reports:

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, as modified by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, consumers are entitled to a free copy of their credit report under a narrow set of circumstances.  If you have been denied credit, goods, benefits, services, insurance, and/or employment, the credit reporting agencies of Equifax, Experian and Trans Union are statutorily mandated to provide a copy free of charge.

Equifax can be contacted at (800) 685-1111 or www.Equifax.com; Experian can be contacted at (888) 397-3742 or www.Experian.com; and Trans Union can be contacted at (800) 916-8800 or www.TransUnion.com. Be sure to prompt that you were denied credit when requested to do so.

Absent these exceptions, consumers are entitled to one free “annual credit report” per year. Credit scores are not included with any of the “free credit reports” provided by the national credit reporting agencies.

For your free annual credit report, contact the central source at 877-FACT-ACT (877-322-8228) or www.AnnualCreditReport.com. Follow the voice prompts and obtain your credit report for review.

When self-help or the “do-it-yourself” approach is not feasible and you decide to hire a company to restore your credit, be sure to check them out.  While the majority of credit repair clinics are scams, a few good ones do exist.  Consumers can check out a credit service organization through their state Attorney General, the Federal Trade Commissionat www.ftc.gov or through the Better Business Bureau at www.BBB.org.

For more information, please contact William E. Lewis Jr & Associates at (954) 337-1530 or visit them on the Internet at www.williamlewis.us.

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As a nationally recognized credit repair and identity theft expert, Bill Lewis is principal of William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates, a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity.

For daily updates on The Credit Report with Bill Lewis, you can join Bill’s 11,550 plus fans on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/thecreditreportwithbilllewis.

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Tax Relief Firms Being Investigated


While the Federal Trade Commission has cracked down on debt settlement and loan modification firms that charge upfront fees, little has been done to rein in tax resolution companies that promise to reduce IRS liabilities.  The FTC has allowed a number of these operations to continue while making a determination whether the agency has authority over them.

With the April 18th tax deadline a month away, tax relief companies have increased late night advertising and Internet promotions promising to settle delinquent IRS debt for pennies on the dollar.  Several of these companies are under investigation for deceptive practices.

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office has initiated a civil inquiry into Texas based Tax Masters and South Carolina based JK Harris and Company following the receipt of 26 and 92 complaints respectively.  These companies solicit clients nationwide promising to reduce anxiety and debt to the IRS.

Tax Masters is being investigated for allegations of unfair competition and deceptive trade.  The Texas and Minnesota attorneys general also filed civil charges of deceptive and unfair trade practices against them in 2010.

JK Harris and Company is under investigation for allegedly violating a 2008 settlement with Florida and 17 other states over what regulators said were misleading sales tactics.  Among the allegations were false claims that case processors were former IRS agents or tax experts and that the company failed to provide refunds for clients it was unable to help.  State officials say JK Harris is cooperating with the investigation.

Some tax relief operations are the target of legal inquiries and lawsuits by regulators in multiple states.  Thousands of consumers nationwide have complained they demanded advance fees of up to $25,000, while promising relief from back taxes and penalties, then did nothing.

Tax-relief companies have flourished as the Internal Revenue Service has more aggressively pursued delinquent taxpayers.  According to the IRS Data Book, the agency filed nearly 1.1 million liens nationwide in fiscal year 2010, an increase of over 60 percent from 2007.

In a seemingly unregulated industry, tax resolution firms have gone largely unnoticed.  A lack of determination of authority from the FTC, tough economic times, and a taxpayers desire to reduce anxiety and IRS debt, have allowed them to exist.  Good common sense in choosing a credentialed tax expert and paying huge upfront fees has been ignored.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, three professionals are authorized to represent taxpayers before them – attorneys, certified public accountants and enrolled agents, all whom must pass an IRS test and take refresher courses.  

In the absence of representation, consumers can negotiate back taxes and penalties directly with the Internal Revenue Service.

Following the 2008 settlement, JK Harris changed its business model and claims to charge only in advance for a report that analyzes what program a taxpayer would be qualified to participate.  Taxpayers could then use the report to negotiate directly with the IRS or retain JK Harris to represent them.

Tax Masters said the company adopted a similar model last year and is charging fewer upfront fees.  Following an analysis, clients can decide if they want Tax Masters to pursue a resolution and will be charged only if the company is successful.  The average Tax Masters client pays $4,500.

Regulators and consumer advocates warn against using companies guaranteeing what the Internal Revenue Service calls an “offer in compromise” — a settlement for reduced tax payment.  Although increasing, IRS statistics show that only 25 percent of compromise applications are granted.

Taxpayers seeking relief from IRS debt should also be aware that companies claiming to be tax specialists may simply be advertising the services of a third-party.

Unlike the debt settlement and loan modification industry, tax resolution services are unregulated in Florida.  Despite the huge volume of complaints regarding advance payments and deceptive advertisements, lawmakers have taken little notice.  No regulation seems on the agenda of the 2011 Florida legislature.

To file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, visit www.ftc.gov or call (877) FTC-HELP (877-382-4357).

To file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office, visit www.myfloridalegal.com or call (866) 9-NO-SCAM (866-966-7226).

To review Bill Lewis’ entire consumer protection series, visit http://www.williamlewis.us.

William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates is a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity. To learn more, tune into The Credit Report with Bill Lewis, weekdays at 9 o’clock on AM 1470 WWNN.

FTC cracks down on advance fees to debt settlement companies


The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) adopted strict new rules on Thursday that ban debt settlement companies from charging advance fees for elimination of credit card balances and other consumer debt. Effective Oct. 27, for-profit companies that sell debt relief services by telephone will no longer be allowed to charge a fee before they successfully settle or reduce a consumer’s outstanding debt obligation.

“This rule will stop companies who offer consumers false promises of reducing credit card debts by half or more in exchange for large, upfront fees,” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said Thursday, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden. “Too many of these companies pick the last dollar out of consumers’ pockets — and far from leaving them better off, push them deeper into debt, even bankruptcy.”

The rule concerning upfront fees covers for-profit debt relief telemarketers, including credit counseling, debt settlement and debt negotiation services. It does not cover Internet sales or nonprofit firms, but does cover companies that falsely claim nonprofit status.

Scheduled to take effect on Sept. 27 are three additional Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) provisions that will require debt settlement companies to make specific disclosures to consumers; prohibit them from making material misrepresentations; and extending the TSR to cover calls consumers make to these firms in response to debt relief advertising.

Since the start of the recession, consumers from all 50 states have filed complaints with the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) about debt settlement companies. In addition to the BBB, angry customers have taken their complaints to their state attorney general. The FTC and state enforcers have brought a combined 259 cases in the past decade to stop deceptive and abusive practices by debt relief providers that have targeted consumers in financial distress.

Attorneys generals from Florida, Maine, Texas, Idaho, Missouri, New York, Illinois, West Virginia, Vermont and Minnesota have taken action against companies such as Debt Settlement America, Debt Rx USA, Financial Freedom of America, Clear Your Debt, Swift Rock Financial Solutions and Credit Solutions, a company that has received over 1,600 complaints in the past 36 months.

“My office works to protect Floridians from misleading debt relief activities by seeking to stop deceptive practices and resolving consumer complaints,” stated Attorney General Bill McCollum. “In these tough economic times, aconsumer’s best defense is to be aware of misleading advertisements and avoid sending money to companies offering such services.”

The rule further specifies that fees for debt settlement services may not be collected until a debt has been successfully renegotiated, settled, reduced or the contract terms have been changed. Moreover, there must be a written settlement agreement, debt management plan or other agreement between the consumer and the creditor and the consumer must have made at least one payment as a result of the agreement negotiated by the debt relief provider.

If a consumer has enrolled multiple debts in one debt relief program, the rule specifies how debt relief providers can collect their fee for each settled debt. To ensure providers do not front-load their fees, the fee for a single debt must be in proportion to the total fee that would be charged if all of the debts had been settled. Alternatively, if the fee is based upon a percentage of what the consumer saves, the percentage charged must be the same for each of the debts.

The rule further specifies that consumer’s maintain fees and savings for debt repayment in a “dedicated account.” However, providers may only require a dedicated account under the following five conditions: the dedicated account is maintained at an insured financial institution; the consumer owns the funds (including any interest accrued); the consumer can withdraw the funds at any time without penalty; the provider does not own or control or have any affiliation with the company administering the account; and the provider does not exchange any referral fees with the company administering the account.

If you have been victimized by a debt relief program, file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office by calling (866) 9-NO-SCAM (866-966-7226) or visiting their website at http://www.myfloridalegal.com. The Federal Trade Commission also offers a variety of resources detailing consumer rights at http://www.ftc.gov.

William E. Lewis Jr. is a credit repair expert with Credit Restoration Consultants and host of “The Credit Report with Bill Lewis” on AM 1470 WWNN, a daily forum for business and financial news, politics, economic trends, and cutting edge issues.